"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Getting Off My Ass (Or Not)

Except for a freak snowstorm that dropped twenty-some inches of snow and brought sub-freezing temperatures in January, this has been a very mild winter. Lots of rain, but generally above average mercury. Since the snow melted three weeks ago, it's been quite warm, and the earliest signs of spring are at hand.

Ornamental fruit trees (like the one above, in Ferndale) are in bloom. Witch hazel is in bloom. Pussy willows are out, except in the very coldest and most exposed of locations. In fact, I bought a red-twig pussy willow from a nursery to plant this year. I've always wanted a pussy willow - it is, so far, the single exception to my "plant only edibles" rule. I'm dreadfully practical, you see. Back when I lived on a standard city lot in Seattle, it made sense to insist that every single thing I put in the ground serve the dual purposes of attractiveness and edibility, but out here, with five acres to work with, you think I might relax a little bit. No; not really. We do plant our live Christmas trees, but other than that, every single plant I plant must be edible or medicinal.

Well, willow is medicinal, I guess. For two years running, I've cut branches from my neighbors and tried to root them, but without success. They would flourish for a while, then die. I asked at the nursery, and found out that I was making the mistake of putting the branches in pure water before planting them. Don't do that - it encourages what the lady called water roots" which apparently don't translate to real roots in the soil later. They die off, and then the plant dies. Better to put the cut branch directly into a pot of moist soil. In any case, I bought a well-gorwn bush about ten feet high. I'd like to save a few years, this time.

The warm weather means it is time for several tasks which I thought I would not have to face for at least another few weeks. The young orchard needs pruning. Usually, I would have at least until the end of the first week in March, but the buds are beginning to swell. Probably I should be digging in the garden, or at the very least preparing the seed trays in the greenhouse. I did get seed catalogues in the mail last week, but it hadn't occurred to me to buy any seed yet.

This is an odd year - as we will be leaving for Mexico in September (The Big Reveal (What We Want)) there will be no late harvest. My entire garden will be planned for spring and early summer harvest - nothing that ripens later than summer squash. I could probably force tomatoes to harvestability in the greenhouse by the end of July. Green beans seem do-able. Last year was so slow and cold that none of the second harvest veggies matured before mid-September, and some not until the end of September.

Well, it's all academic because actually I haven't done a damn thing yet. I am sitting in here typing away on a lovely early spring afternoon when I ought to be shoveling compost and preparing the cold frames. Hmm. I wonder what I can find on YouTube?